On The Anniversary of a Brother’s Suicide

Sad woman outdoorsMy brother would be 39 years old if he had not jumped off a bridge two years ago, on 4/20/2011. When I was informed of his death, I went into a dissociative state and thought that I had jumped off the bridge and killed myself. I thought “we” were dead. My friends got me through the next few hours, until I realized what was going on.

My brother suffered from severe depression and survived 37 difficult years. “The rate of suicide in mental health patients is 10 times what it is in the general population, and the main cause of premature death in mental health patients,” Louis Appleby, MD, told reporters attending a news briefing.

Dr. Appleby added that clinicians and other healthcare workers are sometimes “pessimistic” about the mentally ill and view suicide as “an inevitable consequence” of severe mental illness. (See Full Article)

Although mental healthcare workers frequently suffer burnout due to their emotionally taxing jobs, all of the evidence suggests that suicide is PREVENTABLE, not inevitable.

A suicide fact sheet from the National Institute of Mental Health (See Full Article), states that: “For example, because research has shown that mental and substance-abuse disorders are major risk factors for suicide, many programs also focus on treating these disorders as well as addressing suicide risk directly.

Studies showed that a type of psychotherapy called cognitive therapy reduced the rate of repeated suicide attempts by 50 percent during a year of follow-up. A previous suicide attempt is among the strongest predictors of subsequent suicide, and cognitive therapy helps suicide attempters consider alternative actions when thoughts of self-harm arise.

Specific kinds of psychotherapy may be helpful for specific groups of people. For example, a treatment called dialectical behavior therapy reduced suicide attempts by half, compared with other kinds of therapy, in people with borderline personality disorder (a serious disorder of emotion regulation).

The medication clozapine is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for suicide prevention in people with schizophrenia. Other promising medications and psychosocial treatments for suicidal people are being tested.

Since research shows that older adults and women who die by suicide are likely to have seen a primary care provider in the year before death, improving primary-care providers’ ability to recognize and treat risk factors may help prevent suicide among these groups. Improving outreach to men at risk is a major challenge in need of investigation.”

Suicide is one of the main reasons that “People with serious mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, die an average of 25 years younger than the general population.” – National Association of State Mental Health Planning Directors, 2006


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